“I just believe in his character and his personal integrity,” Grazer, 70, an Academy Award–winning producer, said. “I think if he really commits himself to something, he succeeds at it. He’s just really effective as a builder. He obviously transitioned the mall in L.A. with the Grove and Americana and the fact that he is a good businessman will translate into being a good mayor.”
Bass is also courting her share of Hollywood elite and has Jeffrey Katzenberg; J.J. Abrams; Dan Limerick, head of business affairs at Endeavor; Rick Rosen, cofounder of Endeavor/WME; and Ken Solomon, chairman and CEO at the Tennis Channel, behind her. Ariana Grande implored her 315 million Instagram followers on Sunday to vote for Bass. In an interview with Vanity Fair, Bass noted her solid backing from the entertainment world after working closely with the industry professionals located in her district from Apple Music to Amazon to Sony, Fox, and CAA for close to 30 years promoting diversity in jobs and pushing for tax credits and stricter piracy and copyright laws.
She said she decided to run for mayor “because of the crisis that our city is facing.”
“We have 60,000 people who are unhoused on our streets,” Bass said Saturday over the phone in between campaign appearances. “We have an increase in crime. In my opinion, the stage was set for L.A. to go in a direction that I do not think will be helpful for the people of this city.”
Activist Jane Wishon, vice president of the Stonewall Democratic Club dedicated to LGBTQ+ rights, said Bass is respected for using grassroots approaches to fixing things in the city. Another important plus, says Wishon, is that, if elected, Bass would also be the city’s first female mayor, and first Black female mayor.
“That’s the thing about Karen Bass is that she’s not going to be out there grabbing the attention, but she’s a doer and, at the most basic levels, getting and finding solutions,” said Wishon. “We need somebody who understands the average person’s concerns.”
A longtime Republican, Caruso changed his party affiliation from no preference to Democratic in January in the weeks before he announced he was entering the race. That alone had many people, including Los Angeles County Democratic Party chair Mark Gonzalez, questioning his motives. Gonzalez was further peeved when he said Caruso didn’t bother seeking the Democratic party’s endorsement.
“I took it as a big middle finger to our delegates who are elected by members of their community to represent them in the Democratic Party,” Gonzalez said. “I welcome any New Democrat when they see the light. Unfortunately, I think he did it more for strategy…. You can’t be a D in name only. You got to actually walk the walk and talk the talk. And, unfortunately, I think he doesn’t necessarily have a history.”
Instead of courting his party, Caruso isn’t shy about leaning on his A-list friends Gwyneth Paltrow, Kim Kardashian, Kris Jenner, and Snoop Dogg. Just last week fellow billionaire Elon Musk, who recently said he would vote Republican, endorsed Caruso in the primary. His social media is littered with videos of him also glad-handing local business owners.
Still, Bass’s supporters contend that, despite Caruso outspending them, money doesn’t equate to votes in L.A., pointing to the fact that former eBay CEO Meg Whitman unsuccessfully made a $140 million bid to become California’s governor in 2010.
“I think that there’s more to being a Democrat than just registering,” Bass said. “I think being a Democrat is about your values. I think he has been a Republican the majority of his life and that’s probably a more accurate expression of his values.”